Computer Coaching for Public Speaking?

Feb 23, 2024


Just working this morning on a talk happening two weeks down the road and came across the option from the Powerpoint menu pictured below.

I'm curious, have any of you ever used this?  While I think this would be useful in a way, I'd personally be concerned that this would take a lot of the fun and spontaneity out of a presentation.  Too, looking at the wooden and stale speaking styles that are pretty standard of the "titans of tech" who were probably in charge of putting this coaching feature into Powerpoint, I'm not sure I should be taking tips from them.  I'd rather look to politicians, the stage and stand up comedians for real tips on how to speak publicly.

Still, if any of you have used this feature with success, I'd sure like to hear about it.


Thank you Chris Greer and Tunyalee Martin for the encouragement to check out myself the Computer Coach on Powerpoint.

So I had some time this afternoon + it's a beautiful day to be outside so I walked over to my office and gave the Computer Coach a whirl.  It's a talk I've been preparing about how warming would affect strawberry fruit production on the Central Coast and transplant production in northern California.

The meeting is on March 6 at the UCCE office in Salinas, starts at 8 am, I'm on at noon and you have to register:


Picture of the output is below.  The Coaching is not too bad, sort of generic but could help a lot of people I think.  A few observations:

You need to turn it on: I did one run through of the presentation, only to find I hadn't activated it.  At least my audience will get a little bit more polished presentation out of the extra run.

I need to vary my voice volume: I'm pretty loud already, so maybe I drop it down a bit from time to time.  I would counter this though to say when we academics, and quite frankly others charged with communicating information in a way that is supposed to inspire confidence, can't get too creative with the variation, because while granted you get people's attention it starts to tip into entertainment rather than information sharing.  But, yes I'll concede to this point.

Some concern over bridge words: Words like "um", "you know" and "I mean" seemed to crop up more than I realize.  It is hard to drop this though, I mean I am not leaning on the slide too much, it's mostly from memory so sometimes I need a sec, you know?

Some concern about reading off of the slide: This is interesting, you can see the three slides in question, which basically I followed verbatim but still while looking out at the audience.  It's become popular to turn the captions on while watching TV to follow along better (I do it), so I see the writing on the slides as offering a similar benefit to the audience.  Not conceding the point.

Good work on "inclusiveness": Curious as to what this was, it's about not using foul language, slurs or other verbal offense.  Ok, thanks for the tip.  I organize and chair meetings too, and always make sure to run a good clean show.  


All in all, a helpful tool.  Not something I am going to lean on too much, but something useful to deploy if not sure while pacing out out a talk during practice.


By Mark P Bolda
Author - Farm Advisor, Strawberries & Caneberries

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